Exergaming: the SPEX Project launch “Sporti’s Universe” and an online course

According to a Eurobarometer report, the motor competence of young children in Europe decreased substantially in the last decades: 21% of elementary school children are labelled as ‘significantly below average’. Physical activity is a crucial element for a healthy life, contributing significantly to physical and mental well-being. To address this challenge, all nations must adopt national measures to promote physical activity. And this is where the Erasmus+ SPEX project, co-funded by the EU, comes into play. This project uses game elements and the exergaming mechanism in sports contexts to make physical activity more fun and engaging, with a focus on 8- to 10-year-old children. The 8 project partners – SportaMundi (Belgium) KAMK University (Finland), HAN University of Applied Science (the Netherlands), UISP (Italy), Verde Klaster (Poland), Sportcamp (Greece), Cluster Sports & Technology (The Netherlands) and EPSI (Belgium) – work together to create a sustainable digital solution, to roll it out across the EU.

Exergaming is not just a theoretical concept, but a practical reality with tangible applications. SPEX combines sports and exergaming through the SportKompas tool, a sports orientation tool for children between 8 and 10 years old designed to assist kids in selecting the appropriate sport through specific activities and their interests. In the initial phase, extensive background research was conducted, focusing on training partners in SportKompas Exergaming. This laid the foundation for establishing a comprehensive baseline database derived from data-driven exercises to bridge gaps between existing studies and real-life physical activity in 8 to 10-year-old children.

SportKompas and Exergaming in schools

Collaborative efforts between KAMK, Sports & Technology, and SportaMundi led to the development of SportKompas exercises. Innovations in motoric testing and skill development were crafted specifically for children aged 8 to 10. On this basis, training sessions are currently conducted in all partners’ countries organizing tests involving up to 200 children. These sessions aim to evaluate children’s experiences with the SportKompas platform, marking a crucial phase in refining and enhancing the exergaming program, that has been called “Sporti’s Universe” (available soon for MS Windows).

The online course

At the same time, KAMK University is shaping the pedagogy model into an educational online course. The project seeks to create an education program for physical education teachers by developing a pedagogy model for exergaming, as well as planning a continuing education course for teachers and other instructors, including parents. The course will be available in summer 2024 and distributed across Europe.

Exergaming as the future of sport

In general, integrating gamification into sports creates challenges and competitions that push users to engage more while providing significant benefits. Furthermore, it contributes to the development of practical knowledge, helping them improve in learning skills. So, the SPEX project wants to identify a scientifical beneficial way to improve children’s motor skills through digital games. The digital transformation in physical education continues with SPEX.

Follow the project on Facebook and LinkedIn and stay tuned to discover the “Sporti’s Universe” exergaming platform which will be released in summer 2024.